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Part3 - Izu Skyline
From Yugashima Onsen it's dead simple. Two intersections, three roads. But the roads are high at over 900m and cold moist air blowing on the exposed Izu Skyline tests our legs and will power.
We must first get to the Izu Skyline which runs along the ridgeline, and it's a 12km narrow road gaining 600m in elevation. Climbing really begins after passing what's left of a 100 year old rare metal mine. Average grade around 7%, but maximum is over 10%.
Yuji is in fine shape today, barely sweating and pushing powerfully. Yufta as usual is floating over broken pavement, spinning effortlessly. The rest of us three are content with losing sight of them. No conversations, just looks to each other with clear implication.
Reaching the Izu Skyline was a shock to the system after bodies are heated to the core. The entire ridgeline is covered only by waist-high bamboo grass and you can see as long as the clear winter air allows. The excitement from the awesome views of ocean on both sides of the ridge is quickly overshadowed by the severity of an exposed mountain ridge.
There are very few totally exposed roads like this, where moist cold air blows from below on one side and then wraps around the ridge-top road down the other side. Vincent, still feeling the bronchitis, is barely holding up, trying to find anything to hide from the gust. But riding in the slipstream doesn't work here and pedaling is required to fight the wind. Just like the ocean below, cold air comes in like the tide, lashing at each rider like waves on to coastal cliffs.
Yuji is long gone again. Yufta and I pair up to find a pace, acutely aware of unpredictable movements in the terrain. Then as we reach the highest point of the ride, I find it too steep for my tired legs.
At the Toda Tohge intersection Yuji is punished (ironically) for having the best legs and having to wait, shivering and getting impatient. We can get a full view of where we just came down from. Several minutes later, we see Vincent flying, twisting down towards us. It was a free-fall fast descent for him. Did I mention that Vincent is a former mountain bike pro? A fast descent wakes him up from any condition, like putting a fish back in the water.
"You can always hear somebody's exhaust notes the entire way through the Izu Skyline. Groups of roadsters, another group of big Twin-V's, yet another group of funky bikes and cars. More entertaining here than this year's Tokyo Motor Show"
- Daisuke Yano